Dangers and Injuries From Working at Heights Essay

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of Britain is involved in a campaign concerning safe work practices at UK organizations especially the construction industry which has been its key target for many years due to high number of fatalities and injuries resulting from working at heights in construction industry. Explaining the major problems of work related injuries in UK, Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) said: "Falling from height is the single biggest killer of workers in Great Britain. Last year 49 workers died and many thousands were seriously injured as a result of falling from height. In most of these cases, these deaths could have been prevented. We are working with industry to reduce the number of deaths and injuries and this campaign is one way we hope to reduce the risk of falls from height and improve safety at work."

HSE is aware of the necessity of working at heights in the construction field and hence wants to implement rules for proper assessment of risks and dangers so they can be minimized with safe work practices. Charles Horsefield, Head of HSE London field inspectors said: "Over the next two weeks, HSE inspectors will be visiting workplaces across London and construction sites across Great Britain to look at how work at height is being carried out. When working at height is unavoidable the risks must be properly assessed and safe-working methods adopted. Inspectors will advise and work with those who are trying to improve their management of fall from height risks and will enforce against those who are not."

HSE's campaign revolves around certain important factors regarding working at heights. The inspectors and even the business employers around the UK are expected to focus on the following details of their workplaces especially construction related activities.

First they must identify where work needs to be done at a certain height. In the construction industry, heights are involved in many different activities on daily basis. Workers need to work on the rooftops; scaffolding and use of ladders are very common too resulting in many fatal injuries. But to minimize these risks, it is first very important to know where workings at heights are required.

The second step is to remove the need to work at heights if possible. Though construction industry cannot possibly avoid the need to work at heights, inspectors and employees are required to close watch the construction area to see if heights can be eliminated from some activities.

When it's not possible to avoid heights, construction employers are required by law to provide and implement safe working practices and use every guard possible to minimize the risk of injuries. This is done with the use of such measures as "guard-rails, scaffolding and safe working platforms."

If these measures cannot be put up in some places or while performing some construction related activities, other measures such as fall arrest systems are required to be in place. These systems such as safety harnesses are called Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and are used to stop a fall midway in order to avoid major collision.

Inspectors and employers are also required to make sure that all equipment used for protection of construction workers are in good condition and they are thus regularly inspected to eliminate possibility of malfunction.

HSE also requires all employers in construction industry to ensure that their workers are properly trained for the job and can properly handle the equipment meant for their own safety. Poorly trained workers can put themselves and others at risk and employers can be held directly responsible if poor training was found to be the cause of an injury while working at heights.

HSE also requires all employers to conduct business with contractors who will closely monitor work at construction sites. These contractors must be selected on their track record and not just their price. This way employer can be sure that someone will keep a close watch on their workers while working on the site.

In Britain and especially in Britain's construction industry, falling from heights is the most common reason for death during work. In 2009 alone, 58% of all height related falls and 29% of major injuries resulting from such falls occurred in construction industry.…[continue]

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